State Law Differences: When An Insurer Must Defend

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Each state has different standards for determining when an insurance carrier has a duty to defend. Generally, however, they follow one of three approaches:

“Eight Corners” Jurisdictions

Some states apply a strict “eight corners” rule. These states compare the “four corners” of the complaint with the “four corners” of the policy to analyze the duty to defend. Courts following this approach will not look outside of a third party complaint to determine whether the allegations are covered by the policy. Known or knowable facts outside of the complaint do not give rise to a defense obligation unless they are alleged in the complaint. Texas is an eight corners jurisdiction.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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